Nov 30, 2023

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can be a devastating disease – based on my personal experience, it can take many years to recover. But it is important to remember that one can recover from this terrible disease and can take his or her life back, irrespective of whether it was triggered by bullying or by some other stressful events.

In my case, it was the sustained bullying during the school years that triggered OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) for me. For the first five years of my mental illness, my single greatest struggle and obstacle became simply telling someone what was going on. Before long, merely managing to function through an average day became the greatest challenge of all.  At last, I was able to change my pessimistic perspective, willingly engage in cognitive behavioral therapy and begin to make significant progress with my illness. Eventually, I was able to derive a lasting positive impact after spending only 16 days in Rogers inpatient treatment facility – a positive impact that has lasted throughout the past several years of my life.

Today, I am thrilled to report that I have finally regained control over my once ever so incapacitating mental illness! Though my ordeal has now reached this much better point, there are millions of other people out there who continue to struggle hard with similar issues on a daily basis. I am here to tell those fellow sufferers that this does not have to be their long-term fate. Just as I took back control of my life, they too are capable of freeing themselves from the powerful clutches of this or similar mental health issues.

Nov 16, 2023

Some organizations promote workplace bullying by rewarding managers and supervisors who control their employees through continuous harassment. They incorrectly believe that those managers’ actions are working well in getting their employees to work harder. They don’t seem to care that many of their employees are seeking professional help to address mental health issues.

These organizations mistakenly believe that being tough (and somewhat abusive) to employees is the only way to manage the employees. They develop a culture where employees only have two options – either they put up with the harassment or just leave and go get a different job. And the management is okay with that culture – either you fit in or you go find another job. Sometimes it is not feasible for some employees to find another suitable job, and therefore, they decide to put up with the culture and in the process end up developing mental health issues.

One reason I wanted to write this book “How to stand up to workplace bullying and take on an unjust employer” is to let everyone know that fighting back is an option. There are things an employee can do to fight back against an oppressive company culture. If more employees decide to fight back, these organizations will eventually learn that all employees deserve a non-threatening non-abusive environment for the hard work they put in for the organization.

Nov 09, 2023

Schools need to continue to focus on prevention of bullying, rather than just responding to incidents of bullying reported by the students or other bystanders. And to be able to prevent bullying, it is important to understand why bullies do the bullying, and then address those issues. Otherwise bullying will continue ruining lives of victims.

One of the most crucial things I wrote about in my book “A Life Interrupted – The Story of My Battle with Bullying and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder” is what I learned about why bullies mistreat other children. I had a very interesting encounter, in adult years, with the worst bully from my school years. I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to connect with him after so many years. This encounter told me a lot of about what all was going on in his life and I understood why he became a bully.

Basically, he became a bully because of a lot of negative things were going on in his life that he had no control of. That prompted him to bully other kids and made him feel like he had some control. I honestly believe that if he had received appropriate support regarding the other negative things in his life, it is very likely that he would not have turned into a bully. This is why it is critical for school staff to keep a close eye on the bullies and work closely with their parents and provide the support they need so they won’t continue their mistreatment of other children.

Nov 03, 2023

Bullying and harassment in the workplace can have a significant impact on the victims in terms of emotional wellbeing. There are people who are having to seek treatment from licensed mental health professionals to be able to deal with their mental health issues cause by workplace bullying and harassment. This is something that needs to stop.

There are employees who are able to put up with the bullying and harassment and are able to not let it bother them significantly. They are able to ignore it and move on. They are able to stick it out during the work hours and then are able to enjoy the non-work hours without any issues. They are the lucky ones.

However, there are many other employees for whom it is not possible to ignore such irresponsible behavior at the workplace. It bothers them significantly and it eventually affects them during their non-work hours as well. When they go home, they are extremely stressed and are not able to enjoy any relaxing hours. They remain anxious for the next workday coming up within a few hours. This eventually can develop into significant mental health issues for them requiring professional help.

All of this can be avoided if the companies make sure that bullying and harassment at the workplace is simply not acceptable.

Oct 26/2023

A school should be a fun place to go to for all children. As a minimum the children should have the right to expect the school environment to be a safe one. Sometimes a child does not want to go to school because he or she had not done the home work that needed to get done. But they should never feel like not going to school because of the fear of bullies.

There are still many schools around the country where bullying continues to be active and the school environment is not safe for all children. To me this is absolutely unacceptable. Kids sometimes do not want to go to school because of some learning related issues such as home work and/or other work while at school – this is something the parents would have to deal with anyway. This is a normal situation for many children and is not a bad thing. The process of educational learning is an important activity for all children.

But on top of that some children are also having to deal with the fear of being bullied. Kids should not have to deal with that. It is the responsibility of the adults around the children to provide a safe learning environment for all kids. It is not necessary for children to learn how to deal with mistreatment from bullies. Some adults will say that life is tough and children must learn to deal with it. But I don’t agree – if they have to deal with this at such an early age, it can often create extremely difficult emotional and psychological issues for them. We simply cannot continue to allow such mistreatment.

Oct 19, 2023

In most workplace bullying situations, it is typically an employee being harassed by a supervisor or a manager. In most of these situations the manager or the supervisor never had any training in managing employees. A person who has been a good employee can often get promoted to become a manager. But a good employee, without appropriate training, doesn’t always make a good manager.

All employees expect that when they work hard and do well, they will someday be considered for promotions. However, in many cases, there aren’t that many positions available that one can get promoted to. Most often, the only promotion track available to employees is the supervisory track – they can get promoted to become a Team Leader or a Supervisor or a Manager. This is where the problem lies. Many good employees do not have the right training or aptitude to become a good supervisor.

This is why many companies are working hard to create a non-management promotion track for employees. That means that good employees who might not have the aptitude to become managers or supervisors, can still be promoted to non-managerial positions with greater responsibilities. These companies are trying to make sure that getting promoted to managerial positions is not the only way an employee can get ahead in his or her career. I think it is important for companies to try to focus on this to make sure good employees who are not suitable for managerial roles can feel satisfied with greater and greater non-managerial responsibilities.

Oct 12, 2023

Bullying often triggers OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) for victims because there is a lot of similarity between a bully and OCD. They both try to control the victim and make him/her do things against their wills. That is why OCD is sometimes known as the Enemy Within.

Question often comes up as to why do the bullies do the bullying? I have firsthand knowledge from at least one bully. In my first book “A Life Interrupted – the story of my battle with bullying and obsessive compulsive disorder” I describe an interesting face-to-face encounter I had in adult years with the worst bully from my school days. From my discussions with him I understood that one of the main reasons why he became a bully was because of the treatment he received at home. His home life was not pleasant at all and he felt controlled a lot of the times. Therefore, he felt the need to control others so he could feel important, something that he did not feel at home.

Later through my speeches around the country, I have come to meet a lot of bullies and victims of bullying – they all confirmed that “control” is one of the key factors. This feeling of being controlled can then easily get transformed into OCD. It tortures the victims in a very similar fashion. It makes the victims do things that they don’t really want to do. The only way the victims can get control of their OCD is to learn how to ignore this internal bully. That is what can be achieved through medication and therapy.

Oct 05, 2023

I have been noticing that more and more school officials are starting to understand and accept the fact that bullying can cause very serious long term mental health issues for the victims. However, things are still not changing fast enough in most schools. This is probably because most school staff likely believe that there can be serious impact but not for most victims. They need to focus on the fact that even one life affected is one too many.

It is very easy to step away from doing something about an issue as long as you believe that it really does not impact a lot of people. Therefore, if you believe that most victims of bullying do not end up with serious mental health issues, you would feel justified not to spend a lot of time and effort to find a solution to the problem. You don’t feel bad about ignoring the issue since you have convinced yourself that it does not impact most of the students.

However, the point is that it is an extremely serious problem as long as even one child is affected by it. A couple of years back I had spoken at a conference where the theme was “every child counts”. I think that is an excellent message that all school staff should take to heart. In my view, all school staff should remain focused on the fact that they must be able to create and maintain an environment where each and every child feels safe and protected. No child deserves to suffer from long term mental health issues because of a negative school environment. That is why it is critical that all school staff should be focused on making sure that there is no bullying whatsoever.

Sep 29, 2023

Organizations can do a lot of things to make sure there is no bullying or harassment in the workplace. However, it all comes down to the owner or the CEO placing a high priority on developing and maintaining a bully-free organization. If they are truly serious about it, then the next levels of management will do their best to follow through.

In larger companies the CEO establishes the priority by first hiring a professional Human Resources Director who has experience in appropriately managing bullying and harassment issues, and makes sure that the HR Director understands the priority placed on this matter. In the true account story I describe in my book “How to stand up to workplace bullying and take on an unjust employer”, there was an HR Director involved, but I don’t believe she had the appropriate experience to deal with these issues. It appeared to me that she would rather avoid these issues rather than having to deal with them. Eventually she got rid of me probably because she thought that would help the situation. Of course, I decided to fight back and won my case through union-led arbitration. I believe if there was a well experienced HR Director involved, then the situation would have been handled differently.

In smaller companies it is much harder because owners often do not have the funding to hire an HR Manager. However, even in smaller companies, if the owner makes it very clear that bullying and harassment in the workplace will not be tolerated, then that message often gets through to everyone. Nobody in a workplace wants to go against the priorities set by the owner.

Sep 21, 2023

Many bullies in the schools do not really know what kind of long term impacts they are causing for the victims. They are often told that “bullying is bad – it is not an acceptable behavior in the school. There will be punishment if the bullying continues”. I think the results will be far better if the school officials made sure that the bullies truly understood the long term impact bullying can have on the victims.

Telling them that it is not an acceptable behavior and even handing out some punishment might be a short term solution, but I believe those things do not bring about long term change. Those steps can act as deterrents for a while, but sooner or later the bully gets back to his or her old tricks. That is why it is important to do something that can create a long term change. And based on the feedback I have received over the years from my presentations, I do believe that it is possible to help them make some permanent changes.

First of all, the bullies really need to understand what kind of long term negative impact bullying can have on victims. Most of the school bullies are not aware of this. They think it’s all for some harmless fun at the expense of others. But they don’t really understand that it is not at all “harmless” like they think it is. If they had a good understanding of the life-long devastating impact it can bring to the victims, most bullies will stop continuing the mistreatment. Also, it is really important to work with the parents of the bullies. If the bullies can have a reasonable home life, their actions while at school will be more positive.

© 2017 - Sumi Mukherjee
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